The Use and Abuse of John Calvin in Richard Hooker's Defence of the English Church

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The Use and Abuse of John Calvin in Richard Hooker's Defence of the English Church

At times Richard Hooker (1554-1600), as an apologist for the Church of England, has been treated as “on the Calvinist side”, at others as an “anti-Calvinist”. In fact, Hooker and his Church were dependent on John Calvin in some ways and independent in others. Hooker used recognized sources to paint a picture of Calvin and his reforms in Geneva that would negatively characterize the proposals and behaviour of those he opposed in the Church of England, and yet he adopted Calvinist positions on several topics. A judicious treatment of Hooker’s attitude to John Calvin requires careful reading, and an understanding of the polemical use of the portrait of Calvin. Calvin was indeed grave and learned, but he was human and, as an authority, inferior to the Church Fathers, who were formally recognized as authorities in the Church of England.

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